Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll have noticed that Friends is now on Netflix.

You will probably have also noticed the numerous angry think pieces about how the show is ‘problematic’ (ugh, I hate that word), and the endless lists ranking the characters from best to worst (like we didn’t all decide our favourites twenty years ago).

However, this little gem, in particular, incensed me.

Firstly, the guy who wrote it seriously needs to lighten up. He describes the characters as ‘quite terrible people’, before going on to ask, ‘could they be anymore [sic] “first world problems”’?

Yes, he’s right; they’re all white, heterosexual and cisgender. Yes, some of them do come from ‘incredible privilege’ – I won’t argue that. Obviously, there are many jokes that don’t quite sit right with audiences today; this is true of a lot of shows in the 90’s, but I’m not going to use the ‘product of its time’ argument here. I’m also not going to list all the things the show did right, though there are many.

But to argue that they’re terrible people is, to me, slightly ridiculous.

They make questionable decisions, tease each other and yes, sometimes make inappropriate jokes. But if we’re being completely honest with ourselves, isn’t that what all groups of friends are like?

While I can’t deny his points about their socio-economic status, I do think this ‘first world problems’ rubbish and whining about ‘privilege’ stuff is just…well, it’s a load of crap to be honest.

The show is about a group of twenty-somethings, struggling to make their way in New York City. We see them go on disastrous job interviews, have money problems, endure break-ups and become single parents. Rachel goes from a broke waitress to a successful, independent career woman. Over several seasons, we see Monica work hard, pay her dues and become a head chef at a prestigious restaurant. Joey is a struggling actor and Chandler is stuck in a dead-end job he hates. At one point, the issue of money is not only brought up, but threatens to divide the friends.

Do all these things sound relatable? Yes – that’s because they are.

Suggesting that Friends tackles trivial issues (or ‘first world problems’) kind of misses the point of what the show was trying to achieve. Let’s stop trying to make out that Friends was trying to be ground-breaking. It was light entertainment about a group of ordinary people; crucially, it was designed to be relatable.

At the same time, it still did a fair job of challenging gender stereotypes, promoting LGBT rights (as much as you can argue the characters were ‘homophobic’, let’s not forget that two women get married, raise a child and have a happy, loving marriage – not something that happened in a lot of shows in the mid-90’s) and had plenty of serious storylines – Monica and Chandler’s infertility, for example.

Can’t we all just enjoy Friends as what it is – a snapshot of life in 90’s America, as shown by six regular people?

As for Monica being the worst character? Well, I disagree there too. The author says this can’t come as too much of a surprise, given that Monica is controlling and obsessive. Am I the only person who sees that she was also generous, kind-hearted and loving? Let’s also not get started on calling ‘obsessive’ a flaw (ugh). It’s funny, because I see lots of people criticising the other characters for mocking Monica’s ‘OCD’, yet these same people supposedly hate her for being obsessive. Hmmm.

Oh, and what is this guy’s beef with Monica losing weight because of a man? Sadly, she won’t have been the first person to do this, and I fail to understand why this makes her a bad person (also, great job on shifting the focus away from Chandler, who made the rude comment in the first place). If anything, it just makes her more – you guessed it, I’m going to say it again – relatable.

The bottom line is, Friends is supposed to be light entertainment. Sure, some of the jokes miss the mark now, but again, if we’re being completely honest with ourselves, haven’t we all made jokes that were slightly questionable?

On the show, problematic opinions were challenged, and the characters ultimately grew over time – as we all do in real life.

Is this what makes us so uncomfortable, knowing that at one time or another, we’ve probably all made a tasteless joke, or laughed at something we shouldn’t have? Is it that Friends reminds us that we’ve all had problematic misconceptions of our own?

If the characters on Friends had been perfectly nice to each other all the time, not had problematic opinions or made inappropriate jokes, would the show have been as relatable as it was?

I would argue probably not.

In case you don’t know this about me by now, I’m sort of obsessed with food. That’s why I’ve not only eaten at most of the restaurants in Bournemouth, but I’m fairly certain I’m qualified to share my recommendations.

Without further ado, here are my absolute favourite places to eat in Bournemouth.

Pizza

For pizza in Bournemouth, you absolutely can’t beat Da Mario or Baffi. Da Mario is run by a lovely Italian family and their pizzas are just out of this world. The restaurant itself is quite small and simple, but you’re always guaranteed a warm welcome, friendly service and incredible food. Great for a casual dinner with friends.

Baffi is a bit more stylish, with stripped back industrial decor and romantic lighting. As delicious as their main courses are, be sure to save room for a dessert pizza – they are sensational.

That being said, I had a starter, followed by a whole pizza, with a dessert pizza to myself afterwards, like an absolute boss.

Fish and chips

Living in a seaside town, I couldn’t really write a post about my favourite restaurants without including fish and chips, could I?

Without a doubt, the best ones in Bournemouth are from Alfie’s. All the food is delicious and cooked fresh to order. The chips are perfectly crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, and their batter is nice and light, not too greasy. Definitely give the pea fritters a go.

Sushi

Again, I’ve picked two places. Sushi ‘n’ Roll is a tiny little place on Westover Road, but their sushi is unbelievable. It’s all made fresh to order, there’s a fantastic selection and the price is reasonable too. I would highly recommend the Rainbow Roll and crispy prawn roll.

For more of an occasion, you can’t beat the Nippon Inn on Charminster Road. Again, a great choice of delicious sushi, as well as other lovely Japanese dishes, plus you can choose to eat in the traditional way – at a low table, sitting cross-legged. Note: You will need to take your shoes off, so not the best time to wear boots!

Oh, and I would highly recommend you try the black sesame or wasabi ice cream for dessert.

Thai

Thai food is one of my absolute favourites and in my opinion, the best place in Bournemouth has to be Koh Thai Tapas. Their Tom Yum soup is the best I’ve tried anywhere (it’s ridiculously good, trust me) and because the menu is tapas style, you get to enjoy so many different flavours and dishes. I mean, it’s a way to eat more Thai food, so of course it was always going to be a winner for me. The atmosphere is great and they also serve lovely cocktails.

Other than the soup, I can’t recommend anything else because you just have to try everything. Trust me. Dave and I once ordered so much food the kitchen had to stagger its release because it wouldn’t all fit on our table.

Indian

Winton Tandoori wins, hands down. Dave’s order is a lamb Bhuna and I normally go for an okra curry with cheese naan bread.

Amazing Indian feast!! #manvsfood #lbloggers Great night catching up with friends!

A post shared by Geek Magnifique (@geekmagnifique) on

Dosa World on Old Christchurch Road is great if you want to try something a bit different to your usual Indian. Their speciality is Dosas (as you probably could have guessed), a type of South Indian savoury pancake filled with curry. The food is really good value for money, tasty and filling, and great if you want to try something new.

Tapas

We have a few Spanish tapas restaurants, but the best one by far has to be Tapas Plus in the town centre. The decor is simple, but inviting, and the food is wonderful.

Two words: Fried. Cheese.

Yes please.

Chinese

When we want a takeaway there’s only one place we order from: Mr Rice. They do a great choice of Chinese and Thai dishes, and plenty for vegetarians too. Tofu can always be a bit hit and miss for me, but they cook theirs so nicely that I often find myself ordering it instead of meat.

Other recommendations include the Ha Gow (prawn dumplings – SO GOOD), Massaman curry and their spicy Thai soups. For dessert, you have to get the banana fritters. So freakin’ good.

Vegan

For wholesome and tasty vegan food (and the creamiest hot chocolate), it has to be Sukha Lounge. You can read my full review here.

Steak

The cocktails, food and atmosphere at Funki Griller are top notch. Plus, you can watch your steaks being cooked on a big screen, which is surprisingly quite fun.

Other favourites

Aruba is great for lunch with the girls. It’s right on the beach, does fabulous cocktails and there is something on their menu for everyone.

For really great pub food, fun cocktails, insane freak shakes and incredible desserts, Inferno on Holdenhurst Road is always a winner. They need to bring back their mac ‘n’ cheese toastie though – that beast was incredible!

For awesome breakfasts, you can’t do much better than Starz in Charminster. I always order the Eggs Royale – the poached eggs are perfect every time and they make the best Hollandaise.

Bosca Nova is a perfect brunch spot. They do great coffee, lovely fresh juices and have a lovely selection of delicious choices for vegetarians. You have to try one of their cakes too – they’re sublime!

And that’s how you do lunch. #latergram #lunch #avocadotoast #halloumi

A post shared by Geek Magnifique (@geekmagnifique) on

For the chicken lover who fancies a change from Nando’s, Chicken ‘n’ Blues in Boscombe does something called the Mac Daddy wrap – trust me when I say this should swiftly make its way into your face.

If you work in the Lansdowne area of Bournemouth there are a few great places if you’re looking for somewhere to buy your lunch. Naked Coffee does a great selection of veggie and vegan food, plus fantastic coffee. Also, their white hot chocolate is the bomb.

Sands2 is the place to go if you’re looking for tasty, filling sandwiches, soups and jacket potatoes. My favourite sandwich of theirs is the chicken, bacon and avocado. The staff are absolutely lovely too!

For gorgeous cakes and macarons, check out Le Petit Prince in Westbourne.

Lastly, check out Frieda’s Tea Rooms for the BEST red velvet cake you could hope to put in your face.

Hey guys, it’s just your old pal Mel, back with yet another post blithering on about pizza. What can I say, I’ve found my niche! I say niche, but it’s more of a cavernous expanse, given my rapidly increasing girth.

I visited The Stable in Poole a few years ago and was really impressed by the quality and interesting range of pizzas on offer.

The Bournemouth restaurant is a fair bit bigger, in a beautiful building overlooking the gardens. So far, so good.

I was offered a delicious mulled cider on arrival and taken upstairs, where I was blown away by how gorgeous everything looked.

Beth, our cider master (best job title ever!), introduced herself and brought over paddles of ciders to try. She was so knowledgeable and talked us through the different flavours and production methods, as well as a bit of background on some of the local farms.

We took notes as we went along so that we could rate our favourites at the end. Beth also brought out a bottle of her disgusting old ‘Crusty Cupboard’ cider, to demonstrate what off cider tastes like. I wasn’t brave enough to taste it, but it smelled awful!

Halfway through, we took a quick break from cider tasting, as the pizza was brought out.

I must admit, I’ve never really eaten vegan cheese, but these pizzas were so delicious I made a mental note to pick up some Bute Island mozzarella ‘cheese’ to have as a nice change once in a while.

This is what happens when you bring food out to a roomful of bloggers!

By now, we all had the taste of pizza in our mouths, and had tried quite a few different ciders, so we tried a nifty little trick Beth taught us earlier on in the night. When we sat down we all noticed that we had a cup of coffee beans next to us. Beth explained that sniffing the beans helps ‘reset’ the palate so that you can take in new flavours again. A very interesting little trick!

Not only was this an evening of great food and drink in a beautiful setting, but it was very interesting and informative too. Beth was fantastic, running through everything in a fun and engaging way, while answering any questions we had.

The Stable offers cider tasting evenings, which start from £15 per head. If you know someone who loves their cider, I would highly recommend treating them to an evening like this. Great value for money and a bit more interesting than just your regular night out at the pub.

Me and Ewelina

Because it would appear I’m becoming known as somewhat of a pizza aficionado (finally, my talents are getting the recognition they deserve!), the lovely people at The Wood Oven invited me along to their blogger event last year.

Pizza box

Perfectly situated on Boscombe beach (seriously, you couldn’t ask for better views!), The Wood Oven is part of the Urban Guild group of restaurants. I’ve been to all the others and they are wonderful; I highly recommend the breakfasts and Sunday roasts at the Urban Beach Hotel.

The group’s founder, Mark Cribb, gave a really interesting talk about the inspiration behind his restaurants and three things became clear:

  1. He’s incredibly passionate about hospitality and bringing people together over great food and drink
  2. His menus all centre around great locally-sourced food and home-grown produce
  3. He absolutely loves what he does!

I think that last point is crucial to his success. Nothing is more inspiring than seeing someone talk passionately about a business they’ve built from absolutely nothing, and learning what drives them.

He also went on to explain the reason behind the company’s logo – a pineapple, which is dotted all over their restaurants, menus and marketing materials.

Apparently the pineapple is a well-known symbol of hospitality, though embarrassingly, I worked in hospitality for three years and had no idea! Back in the day, when pineapples were expensive and hard to come by, if a host served one at a party it was seen as a sign of opulence. Their eye-catching appearance soon inspired door-knockers, banister acorns and other home ware – seriously, you’ll start to notice that they pop up everywhere! Even today, you’ll no doubt have seen all manner of pineapple accessories – lamps, vases, trinket boxes. Now it all makes sense!

Mark then handed over to his head chef, who ran us through the basics of pizza making. He also showed us photos of his research trip to Italy. It’s a hard job, but someone’s got to do it, eh?

Pizza chef

I watched and listened as his showed us the best way to knead and stretch the dough. Easy, I though to myself. I’m going to be a pro at this.

Um…it turns out I wasn’t quite the natural I thought I would be.

Several attempts and two balls of dough later, I gave up and decided to embrace my failings. The result:

Say goodbye to boring round pizzas and enjoy a spot of f(el)ine dining with the Geek Pizzafique CAT PIZZA.*

I mean, look how cute! It has herb whiskers and a mushroom nose, for crying out loud!

Sure, the others tasted really good, but were they cat-shaped? Nope.

We took our marvellous creations down to the kitchen and prepared to be pitted against each other in the ultimate test of creativity and culinary aptitude. I suspect I won more points for the former, but really, who wouldn’t want to eat a meowzzarella (thank you, I’m here all week), anchovy, rosemary and pawperoni pizza?

After the winners were announced (shockingly, I didn’t make the top three), we rounded off the evening with a cupcake decorating class, hosted by Urban Reef’s resident baker.

All in all, it was a lovely evening, and though I didn’t win a coveted guest spot on the Wood Oven’s menu, after a playful (and somewhat aggressively rigorous) campaign of harassment on Twitter, I managed to persuade the guys to put my glorious cat pizza on their specials menu.

Winner winner, kitten dinner**.

So, if you find yourself in Bournemouth and have a hankering for pizza, these guys are definitely worth checking out.

* Does not contain actual cat

**Again, I must stress, there are no actual cats in this pizza

 

When I had my shoot with Kaye last year, she also took some solo shots of me. I have to say, while I normally hate seeing photos of myself with no makeup, I actually love these. I was having a bit of an acne breakout when they were taken, but somehow I still look comfortable in my own skin.

In these photos, Kaye managed to capture a sense of acceptance and dare I say it, perhaps even confidence? When I saw them for the first time I was actually surprised that I don’t look more nervous or vulnerable.

Thank you Kaye.